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Hook, D. Bristow, A. (2016). Lacan on Madness: Lacan on Madness: Madness, Yes You Can't Edited by Patricia Gherovici and Manya Steinkoler London, England: Routledge, 273 pp., $45.60 (paperback), 2014. DIVISION/Rev., 14:8-10.
(2016). DIVISION/Review, 14:8-10
Lacan on Madness: Lacan on Madness: Madness, Yes You Can't Edited by Patricia Gherovici and Manya Steinkoler London, England: Routledge, 273 pp., $45.60 (paperback), 2014
Review by: Derek Hook
The parsimony of the Lacanian diagnostic framework—which divides psychic life into a threefold schema of neurosis, perversion, and psychosis—seems to risk under-differentiation of the last of these three categories. The point seems to have been conceded by Jacques-Alain Miller, Lacan's son-in-law and heir apparent, who remarked some years ago during a Paris seminar on ordinary psychosis: “Psychosis is a continent.” It is, of course, well-known that Lacanians reject as structurally unfounded the notion of a “borderline” personality. The problem is thus clear enough: an incredibly wide range of ostensibly psychotic phenomena come to be categorically grouped under a very broad theoretical formulation, namely that of the foreclosure of the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father.
This is not to suggest that there are not very lively debates about which aspect of Lacan's work one should focus on in conceptualizing psychosis today, or that the rival concepts of ordinary psychosis and actual neurosis are not also being discussed and clinically applied. This being said, the secondary literature available in English that adequately differentiates between melancholia, schizophrenia, paranoiapsychosis, ordinary (or “quiet”) psychosis, and manic-depressive psychosis, is sparse.
This points us to the first crucial contribution of Lacan on Madness: the volume covers an impressive cross-section of specific types of psychosis. It includes illuminating contributions on manic-depressive psychosis (by Darian Leader), melancholia (Russell Grigg), schizophrenia (Manya Steinkoler), and actual neurosis (Paul Verhaeghe), in addition to discussions on a series of importantly related topics such as psychotic transference (Jean Allouch), suicide (Richard Boothby), narcissistic neurosis (Hector Yankelevich), and hysteria (Clause-Nöele Pickmann).
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